One of the largest banks in the world has partnered with a small Iowa company to facilitate worldwide real-time payment transactions. BBVA, the second-largest bank in Spain with just over $27 billion in revenues last year, is teaming up with Des Moines-based startup Dwolla to change the way its customers move their money from place to place using the company's network, called FiSync.
Banks still rely on a system called ACH, or Automated Clearing House, invented in 1978 to move money in a matter of days. Dwolla built its own real-time network to accomplish the same thing in less than a second. It's been adopted by small credit unions and merchants, but had yet to gain any mainstream traction until the partnership announced today.
BBVA has already established itself as a firm player in the intersection of digital and finance, acquiring the Internet-only banking company Simple earlier this year. "BBVA has digital in the forefront of its strategy," said Dave Kucera, BBVA Compass's director of Business Innovation. "When we look at Dwolla, we see they’ve provided a new experience for customers. We see a value proposition — not a threat, but an opportunity to partner."
ACH is just shy of 40 years old. It's slow and clunky by comparison to our world of instant digital gratification. "Regulatory requirements can significantly impact our customer base. We like to move fast, and that's not always easy for a financial institution," said Chad Ballard, director of Innovation and Mobility for BBVA Compass. The terms of the partnership are not disclosed.
The key takeaway from this partnership is that "everyone in the country will get access to FiSync through BBVA Compass. Life gets better for these customers," said Ben Milne, CEO of Dwolla.